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Corruption Bubbles Up Amid The Immigration ‘Crackdown’

Whenever you hear nativists like Lou Dobbs and Tom Tancredo wank endlessly about "cracking down on illegal immigration," you always hear them give lip service to the idea that they also have to crack down on the people who are doing the hiring. That’s why Bush’s "immigration crackdown," when announced, featured lots of talk about making employers toe the line too.

But this week’s immigration raids in Iowa — like similar raids elsewhere — have made clear that this is all just a lot of empty wank. The reality, as always, is that the impoverished brown people are the only ones facing consequences.

So far, the chief employer involved in the raids, Agriprocessors Inc., has not been charged with anything, nor have the plant’s managers or owners been rounded up like cattle and herded into detention centers.

I wonder if this couldn’t be because one of its top officials is a major donor to Republicans:

A top official at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville that was the subject of an immigration enforcement action Monday is an active Republican campaign contributor, records show.

Sholom Rubashkin, whose family owns the company, since 2000 has made $23,750 in federal campaign contributions, according to Federal Election Commission records.

That includes $5,750 to the Republican Party of Iowa from 2002 through 2004.

Rubashkin also gave $2,000 to Rep. Tom Latham, an Ames Republican, in 2004; $1,500 to candidate William Dix in 2006; $3,000 to candidate Stan Thompson from 2001 through 2004; $2,000 to Sen. Charles Grassley of New Hartford in 2004; and $2,500 to former Rep. Jim Nussle in 2000 and 2002.

Grassley collected another $2,000 each from Abraham Rubashkin, Leah Rubashkin and Ryfka Rubashkin, all of Postville, in August 2004.

To be fair, it seems that other plant officials have also given money to some Democrats. But the fact remains that the people who should be joining the Latino immigrants behind bars — and are not — are people with heavy GOP connections. The Register story notes:

Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, said there are hundreds of children in Postville whose lives will be changed by the raid, and he wants to make sure they are a priority.

"If people have broken the law, there should be consequences," he said. "I’ll be interested to see if federal authorities will be bringing any charges against the employer."

Well, as Frank Sharry at America’s Voice observes:

We know that the Swift Company never faced any charges after the raid in Marshalltown, and the enforcement of immigration violations against corporations has plummeted during the Bush administration. Until we enforce our immigration laws equally against both employers and employees who break the law, we will continue to have a problem with immigration.

Dee at Immigration Talk has a particular insight into the whys of this raid:

Because there is an ongoing Iowa and federal labor law violations investigation of Agriprocessors and the union fears Rubashkin will use the raid to intimidate workers and throw the next unionization vote.

Mark Lauritsen, International Vice President of the United Food and Commercial Workers, wrote a May 2 letter to ICE: ICE action could result in employees leaving the plant, interfering with a government investigation that would “ultimately uncover unscrupulous employer acts,” he said.

The most disturbing aspect of these raids, as always, is the horrendous effects they have on immigrant families, particularly children. In Iowa, because of the size of the raid, it could be a significant problem:

Children of detainees might not be cared for if the detainees were afraid to tell immigration officials that they have children, said Sister Mary McCauley of St. Bridget’s Catholic Church.

McCauley said she’s concerned that those who were detained after the Monday morning raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant were afraid their children would be arrested.

“Some could still be in an apartment, maybe with an aunt or older brother or sister,” McCauley said. “How would they get food if they’re afraid to go outside?”

McCauley said her concerns were echoed by many inside the church, where illegal immigrants have gathered since after the raid, seeking sanctuary.

“How do we get into the houses to find out when they’re afraid to open the door?” McCauley said.

Trevor Seibert, who owns 20 apartments in Postville that he said are mostly rented by Hispanics, said he went door-to-door on Monday to check if any children were left unsupervised.

He found all children with an adult, but now fears that many apartments are left unoccupied by Agriprocessors workers who fled Postville after the raid.

So much for those "family values" Republicans.

Nicola Wells and the folks at Standing FIRM have much, much more.

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David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.